Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just how petty am I?

The only member of our janitorial staff--a wonderful woman--is out this week. Unsurprisingly, when I went into the break room a few moments ago, I noticed we only had about five paper towels left on the counter.

The site of the tiny little pile of paper towels surrounded by crumbs and small coffee spills stirred up dual emotions. First, anger at my coworkers*, who either pretend incompetence at menial tasks or hold the false belief that they are above such tasks as opening up the cabinet and extracting a new package of paper towels (and sometimes both), and second, curiosity at just how long my coworkers would go without paper towels in order to avoid performing such task.

Provoked, I took all of the remaining paper towels on the counter and hid them in a drawer in my office.

I can't wait to see what they do now. Complain? Panic? What will they do when they spill something? My guess based on previous history: leave it there and walk away. Possibly there will be anger. Possibly tears.

Yes. I am that petty. But it's the little things that get you through the day, right?

*Really only my fellow attorneys. I really like working with them, but they do act like they deserve to have someone clean up after them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday Part I: In Which I Thought The Day Would Suck, But It Didn't

You know how sometimes you have the same birthday as one of your coworkers, and most of your coworkers remember it's his birthday but not yours, and they have this big to-do for him, but not for you? Yeah, I hate that.

My birthday last week started off alright. Alright for turning 35, I mean. When I got to work, I found that one of my coworkers had left me a box of Reed’s Ginger Chews, which she knows I love. Good way to start the day, right? I sent her an email to say thank you, and in response, she came into my office to tell me happy birthday in person and to apologize for only giving me one box. She's sweet like that.

Right before she walked into my office, I had started checking my email. So as Ginger Chew Coworker is telling me happy birthday, I saw an email from another coworker with a subject line that says "HAPPY BIRTHDAY." So at first, I think, how nice! And then I reread the subject line of the email, which was sent to the whole office, and I noticed that it actually says "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE.”

There was no corresponding “HAPPY BIRTHDAY [JLR]” email.

That of course made "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE" seem more like, "AND WE DON'T CARE IF IT'S ANYONE ELSE'S BIRTHDAY BECAUSE WE ONLY CARE ABOUT JOE." 'Cause why would you single out ONE coworker for a birthday wish if you liked both coworkers equally, or if you were willing to put on a front to the rest of the office that you liked both coworkers equally. It's like when both RR and I get hair cuts around the same time, and the next time someone sees us, they remark, "Oh, RR, I really like your hair cut." It's hard not to turn that into "I really like your haircut," right?

Then yet another coworker (we’ll call her “round-up coworker”) came by my office to tell me and Ginger Chew Coworker that we needed to head over to the break room “to sing Happy Birthday to Joe.” And, apparently, someone had brought him a cake. So I had *a* coworker wishing me happy birthday, and Joe had the entire office wishing him happy birthday. And also singing to him. And he had cake. And balloons. And a birthday hat.

Ginger Chew Coworker kindly pointed out to Round-Up Coworker that it was also my birthday. From her face, it was apparent that Round-Up Coworker had not realized it was my birthday (awkward!), despite her having signed the obligatory "from everyone at the office" birthday card at some point. She looked a little embarrassed and uncomfortable for a moment, and then came up with, “Yeah, but you’re not turning 40.” Well, she had me there. Good recovery, Round-Up Coworker.

I declined to go sing happy birthday to Joe because Joe is my friend, and I knew Joe would point out to people that it was also my birthday (this is a topic he and I joke about pretty much all year long), and then everyone would feel uncomfortable, and there would be an awkward, “um, happy birthday to you, too, we totally did NOT forget!” from everyone. Plus, they’d feel compelled to direct singing at me, and I didn’t want that.

Then I logged onto facebook and saw that my sister’s coworkers had decorated her office for her. My coworkers, on the other hand, didn’t even remember to give me the office birthday card, the one that everyone always gets on their birthday from the rest of the office. No worries, though! Someone remembered to deliver my card to me the day after my birthday.

And pretty much all day long, that’s how my day was.

Why did I care about all this? Did I really expect my coworkers to spend their day telling me how great I am? Not at all. The thing is, when it comes to birthdays, I don’t need a lot of hoopla or attention. I don’t actually care if people don’t remember my birthday. We all have tons of information we have to keep in our heads all the time--does remembering my birthday mean you're a better friend than someone who doesn't? No way. If someone is a friend, he or she has proved that to me in a million ways that actually matter, and not remembering my birthday doesn't take away from that. It's not even on the list of things that prove you are my friend. Just like remembering my birthday can't cancel out you being a jerk to me, either.

So it's not that there wasn't a big deal made about my birthday that bothered me. My problem was, it makes it hard not to take it personally when you share a birthday with a coworker and they make a big deal about him (more so than they usually do for people on birthdays), but for you they don’t even remember to say happy birthday. The contrast is noticeable, no? So for about an hour on my birthday, I felt a little sad. Ok, a lot sad. It felt like my coworkers were telling me what they really thought about me, and it wasn’t flattering.

Then I guessed (correctly) that it was an intern who is also one of Joe's students who brought the cake and balloons. That didn't explain the getting together to sing Happy Birthday, which we've never done for anyone before in the four years that I've been there. But then I reminded myself that Joe talks about himself a lot. I mean, a lot. A LOT. In your whole life, you may never have met someone who talks about himself as much as Joe does. He’s a really, really nice guy, so instead of being annoying, it's mostly just part of his charm. But there’s no denying that he spends most of his conversation time (and the guy talks a lot) relating the epic tale that is “The Amazing, Unbelievable True Story of Awesome Joe and his Awesomeness and Amazing Accomplishments,” starring Joe. There’s no possible way that people could be unaware of his birthday. He'd have told them a million and half times. It would have been built up into a birthday event.

And I am the opposite. I only mentioned to a few people that my birthday was coming up, and then just in the context of having plans for the weekend. And I didn’t even mention the exact date---people would have had to go through the trouble of looking up on the employee list to see exactly when the date was (or, you know, looking at the birthday card they signed). That made the fact that several people did remember my birthday so much more meaningful. So although it felt like an intentional slight at first, and a crappy way to start the birthday, I snapped out of it and was able to enjoy the rest of the day.

And all of the people that I’m actually friends with at work all wished me a happy birthday. Another coworker brought me a beautiful orchid, and some others took me to lunch. Still another told me that she had planned to decorate my office but her whole morning had gone wrong, and she couldn't get there before me in order to make it happen. I really appreciated the thought. Knowing her, there was just no way she would get to work before me, so the fact that she had planned to do it meant a lot. So basically, I was sad over nothing, and once I realized that, my day was pretty good. You know, for turning 35.

And then I had a great weekend, which I will tell you about next post. I will end this with part I of my birthday celebration with RR, which involved this:

Look look look!

Yeah, that's right. My copy of The Man From Nowhere came in, and it's still awesome. Kim Sae-Ron still makes me cry. Won Bin still looks good. Still can't shake that image of him in that hideous designer shirt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Words of Wisdom from RR

This evening, after I told her about my day:

"Don't worry, tonight you can reload, and tomorrow you can shoot yourself in your other foot."

She has a good sense of humor.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blerg at the office

Ok, so at my office, there is an unavoidable task, which I will call "The Blerg" (because I hate it), which must be done, but not by me. What I mean is, although other people with my job at my office have to do The Blerg, I usually do not. When at one point, my coworker asked me if I wanted to lateral into the job I have now, I declined, and I told her expressly that it was because I never wanted to have to do The Blerg. She assured me I would not, because the office was hiring one person whose job it would be to do The Blerg for every department, so none of the rest of us would have to. So I moved into the job I have now without worry.

But now, due to budget cuts, when The Blerg Lady left, the powers that be did not replace her. So now each department must take care of their own Blerg work. I have not had to deal with it yet because my coworker normally does The Blerg. But this week, we are on Blerg duty, and my coworker is "conveniently" taking vacation. I say "conveniently" with a slightly, but only slightly, sarcastic tone. It's only slightly sarcastic because her daughter is on break from school, so it makes sense that this week would be the week she takes vacation. But I can't leave out an element of sarcasm in my tone because she always takes vacation or sick days on the days when there is something unpleasant coming our way, leaving it to me to take care of it.  

I used to think this was just the product of my resentful imagination. You know, how when you really hate doing something but have to do it anyway, you start looking for people to blame it on, even though it can't possibly be anyone's fault. I'm usually pretty good at stopping this tendency in myself. So although at first I'd begin the resentment build-up over it, I'd just make myself do some yoga breathing exercises and calm the heck down before I had a melt down over something ridiculous. But after awhile, even other coworkers starting noticing her, shall we say, fortuitous timing. And then when those coworkers left, even their replacements noticed it. so I know it's not just my imagination.

The first time I had to do The Blerg was a few months after I started working here. The was before The Time of The Blerg Lady, back when, like now, each department did their own Blerg work. My job at that time did not include Blerg work, but my coworker decided to take some time off at Christmas, so she just announced to me that I could not take any days off around Christmas because she needed me to be there to do The Blerg. So, basically, she banned me from taking vacation so I could be there to do her job. Resentment. I definitely had it then.

Then The Blerg Lady came, and I moved jobs to have basically the same job as my coworker. Then The Blerg Lady left, and now I can't even get resentful about having to do The Blerg, because now it's technically part of my job. But my coworker usually has to take care of it because the Blerg work that comes in usually relates her area of expertise. This week, however, it doesn't matter. I have to do all The Blerg. And I'm trying not to resent her for it.

Before she left last week, I told her that I would be working from home on this coming Friday, for part of the day, because I had to take my cat to the vet. I told her I'd have the office called me if any Blerg stuff came in, and I'd come in then to deal with it. Her reaction? "Oh, Friday's are terrible." Translation: actually, you are not taking your cat to the vet for his EKG, at least not on Friday. So basically you have to do The Blerg, and it will be even worse than you thought. The sing-song "HA ha!" was just implied.

I really, really don't want to get annoyed with my coworker over what is surely coincidence (and not behavior that is at best conscious indifference and at worst intentional offloading of unpleasant work), but I'm afraid that there isn't enough coffee in the world to make me be reasonable about this.  So for the next week, expect me to be cranky, tempered by a slight hope that my super power will work so that all my complaining here will prevent any actual Blergness.  Cross your fingers for me, y'all.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"A," not really based on effort

Just took my test online--nailed it! I studied for it, and I did all the reading (ok, I skimmed part of it), but I still wasn't sure about quite a few of the questions. Good thing it was multiple choice. I have to say, I'm not sure I like what it says about community college when you can make an A on a test even though for at least 25% of the questions, you picked your answer by the "uh, that answer sounds good" method. I want to think that it's because I'm so super smart that even my random guesses are usually correct, but that's really not the case.

At least I'm willing to admit when I don't know something, though. I don't know why so many of my guy friends feel compelled to give you an answer if you ask a question, even if they have to make something up. Sometimes after one of them has given me some clearly-not-based-on-knowledge answer, I just want to look at him and say, "Seriously, you can just say you don't know." But actually, I don't think they can.

At least on multiple choice tests, you have an answer to pick from. That makes me feel a little better about being able to get an A even with gaping holes in my knowledge. But it also makes me think that either I am doing something wrong or the instructor is.

I'm not going to complain to the school or anything, I'm just saying.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Allergies, The Sleepies, and Studying Fail

WARNING: I have The Sleepies! Boring Blog Post Ahead!

Today at work, I ate a piece of gooseberry candy that a friend gave me, and although I don't see how I could have an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients, something hit me pretty bad. I got to the point when I thought maybe I should use my epi pen, which, according to my allergist's instructions to me, means I probably should have. But if I did that, then I'd have to go to the doctor and explain what happened, and I really don't want my doctor to tell me that everything was fine and I'm just a big ol' hypochondriac.

Side story (it's related) (thought I'd already blogged about this but can't find it): I got a cold once in college, and I seriously thought I was almost recovered when actually, I had developed bronchial pneumonia. So my roommate ratted me out to my mom, who then drove down to my school and basically kidnapped me and took me back home to my doctor. My doctor said, "bed rest," and I said, "no, math test, gotta be back to school on Tuesday," and the doctor said, "haha, sure! Mrs. R, may I see you in the hallway for a moment?" So, no one would drive me back to school, but my doctor did give me a note for my professor, so I didn't cry. I was at least happy to have an unexpected chance to see my sister and also to maybe get to go to the Tom Petty concert that she was going to, but she and my mom both laughed in my face at me thinking this was a viable option. I was all, "It's outside, I can just lay down on a blanket," but no. So I was therefore forced to stay in bed with nothing to do. And then I finally, FINALLY realized, "hey, I feel so very crappy right now." And that's when I realized that I'm not any good at paying attention to how I feel.

So since that incident, if I have a cold that hangs on for a good period of time, I go to the doctor. And the doctor always tells me it's just a cold, and I feel stupid for wasting people's time. And so now I pay attention to how I feel but won't do anything about it. Whenever I don't feel well, I have these competing feelings of not wanting to go to the doctor over nothing and not wanting to wind up in the hospital out of sheer stupidity.

So, back to today: I wound up just taking an antihistamine and monitoring myself, and I did get to feeling better. But now for the rest of the evening, I'll be completely distracted by any new symptom. When I'm around other people, I underestimate the severity of any symptom that I might be having because I figure that if I pass out, someone will do something. But when I'm by myself, all of the responsibility is on me, so I freak out about every little thing. And because I don't want to overreact, but I also don't want to die (or get another lecture from my doctor), I have this constant dialogue going on in my head. "Now should I use my epi pen? How about now? Now should I?" My fear of either over- or under-reacting makes me very, very focused on my current physical state but completely unable to do anything about it.

It's bad timing on my part because I have a test for my nutrition class this week, and even though I'm not taking this class with any thought of pursuing another degree, I still can't not study. So this evening is my study night, and if my ability to focus is any indication of how the test is going to go, I better hope I do well on the other exams. Because if you were watching me this evening, here's what you'd have seen:

Me looking up flood blogs, start planning future meals.
Me studying.
Me going upstairs to get lotion, come back downstairs to find my cat in my chair. Move computer to another location, glare at cat, who responds with a "what?" look.
Me studying.
Me reading a runner's blog, then looking up new running shoes, even though at my current jogging schedule, I should not wear my current ones out until approximately 2026.
Me studying.
Me thinking about Nutella.
Me considering using my ottoman. Me staring at said ottoman and trying to move it with my mind. (Did not work)
Me studying.
Me texting RR.
Me freaking out that I might be getting hives.
Me calming back down.
Me realizing that my lips are really chapped and then, as a true OCDer, having to go get lip balm because unable to think of anything else, other than the fact that my neck itches.
Me thinking maybe I am getting hives and going to check out my neck in the mirror.
Me calming down again and realizing I'm really thirsty.
Me getting water.
Me studying.
Me noticing that I have a headache and that my back and ankle itch.
Me noticing that I'm holding my breath. (Why do I feel like I'm about to pass out? Oh, right, not breathing.")
Me studying.
Me noticing that I have distend-a-belly, which is what I call it when I get a distended stomach due to eating something that I'm allergic to. Spend a few moments patting my belly to comfort it. "It's ok, Tummy! You'll be ok!"
Me being really glad that I was alone when I started talking to my tummy.
Me making up a song, the only words of which are: "I am so sleepy, I think I might cry."
Me realizing it's only 6:30 p.m, and I'm already sleepy enough to go to bed now. Le sigh.
Me posting on my blog.

And now, I'm going to go finish off the jar of Nutella before RR gets home. And make some coffee. And then, for real, I'll study. Really. But, uh, don't ask me how my test went.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Sorry to do this to you, folks, but I have to tell you what songs I get stuck in my head so that they will maybe actually get unstuck.

Like most people, I randomly get song medleys stuck in my head. I've mentioned before that I used to default to Elvis's "In the Ghetto." That song would just show up in my brain out of nowhere and hang on for days. Then it switched to that @#$%@^ Hamster Dance song. Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here.

You're welcome.

Sometimes people try to be helpful by giving me a different song that they think might displace the song that's on repeat in my brain. This is not actually helpful because any song will become annoying when you have to listen to it over and over again all day. Plus, I usually just get a medley of the suggested song and "mahna mahna," which is way worse.

Again, you're welcome.

Lately, however, I have a whole new medley. It's a combination of two (very short) songs you may or may not have heard of. The first one is just a few lines from a Teen Girl Squad episode. See if you don't catch yourself singing "Garbage disposal, what a way to go. Garbage diSPOsal!" after you've seen it.

The other song is from an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog. In this one episode, Eustace has stolen a slab that had previously been stolen from an King Ramses' tomb, and the mummy wanted his slab back. As a warning, the mummy sends three curses: locusts, a flood, and, in a stroke of genius, a really annoying song. It's one of those funny-because-it's-true instances because of course, having a song in your head does feel like a curse.

You wouldn't think that a short song, the only words of which are "The man in gauze, the man in gauze/King RAMSES!" would stick in your head, but boy does it.

And right now, I can think of nothing else. And because I'm selfish, and because I believe that getting a song stuck in someone's head is the only way to dislodge it from your own brain, I'm sharing. Good luck to you all.

Yeah, this song [which followed this Homestar Runner video] sticks with you for days. I know, because it was stuck in my head the whole drive up to visit my grandfather last weekend, and then all the way back again.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why Am I Stupid?

Well, I survived the trip to visit my grandfather. My parents actually managed to get along pretty well. Most of their road-trip squabbling comes from personality differences that don't arise generally in their day-to-day lives. They have completely different driving styles, for one thing, something that is barely noticeable driving across town to the mall but is pretty much impossible not to focus on when you spend 20 hours in a car together. They also have totally different preferences on how to spend their days off. Do you get up, take care of all your "to do's" for the day, so you can spend the rest of the day relaxing, like my dad? That's me. If I have something I know I have to do, I'd rather not put it off. But my mom, on the other hand, likes to sleep in, putter around the house in her pajamas, and get dressed in a leisurely manner. She doesn't care that it might be 2pm before she gets out the door to start running errands. This might be because she's a bit of a night owl, so even if she doesn't get done with her list of things to do until 7pm because she's still got hours of her day left.

My dad and I are both early-to-bed types, so if I get home at 7, I don't have any free time left to my day--the rest of the day is spent getting ready for bed, and then getting in bed. This is both because sleeping's my favorite, and because I'm always trying to get in bed before that point in the day when my body just powers down like a robot. At some point I stop making any sense, I can't form sentences or complete thoughts, I get nauseated, and, often, I start to cry. This is all involuntary, but still annoying to deal with, if you ask RR, who has had to deal with it all her life. Probably even in utero. Probably the reason why at one point my umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck was because she woke me up from a nap.

I'm not joking. You don't want to be the person that wakes me up.

Anyway, Saturday was an opportunity for my parents to get very annoyed with each other, when by 8:30, dad was up, breakfast eaten, all packed and ready to go visit my grandfather and then get on the road before noon, while my mom was barely out of bed but had managed to get herself in front of her laptop playing Farmville. I'm pretty sure Farmville is the only reason she brought her laptop on the trip, by the way, because of course Farmville is that important. I won't tell you what I think about that; I'll let you just guess by telling you that the previous sentence, if read aloud, should be said with a sarcastic tone.

Anyway, my dad could have snapped at my mom for lolligaggin', and my mom could have snapped back at him and then sulked the rest of the day, but that didn't happen. And both of them put up with me soapboxing about the environment while they were trapped in the car with me. And for dinner Friday night, they picked a Japanese restaurant over barbecue solely for my benefit. So all in all, I have to say that my parents were awesome, and I am eating crow with a side of humble pie.

This seems to be happening a lot lately--I complain in anticipation about something that I just know is about to happen, something I just know a person is going to do, and then the opposite happens. I should think of this as a lesson from God about not prejudging people, and not getting myself in a twist about things that haven't happened yet, and maybe about how my life is not nearly so bad as I like to make it out to be when I'm in a mood. But instead, I'm thinking that I have a really awesome superpower here. I appear to have been given the ability to bend situations to my will. If I don't want something to happen, I just need to complain publicly about how unfair it will be, and then the opposite will happen. This is an awesome superpower for me as I'm perfectly willing to have to publicly retract previously made statements if it means that the thing I dreaded never comes to pass.

Sometimes I find a way to screw my apparent superpower, too. Like how I was sure my parents would want to go eat some place where I could get maybe some dry lettuce with mealy tomatoes ("you can eat that, right?" "Well, I can."), and I complained about that to RR before I left. And then they suggested we go some place where I could get sushi. It's maaaaagic!

But then when we went to the Japanese restaurant, and I ordered a veggie roll, which turned out to be Roll of Death. Well, ok, more like a roll of "if you eat that, you'll certainly be uncomfortable later, at the least." They came with (1) carrots, which I should have anticipated, and (2) some sort of mayonnaise-type condiment, which I totally did not see coming. I'm allergic to carrots, and I'm allergic to the eggs in mayonnaise.

But did I decline to eat these items on the ground that they could make me very sick or possibly kill me, and that best-case scenario, I'd spend the rest of the evening feeling pretty crappy? Of course not. Why would I be smart about it? No, I picked out the carrots ineffectively and scraped off the condiment as best I could, which is to say not very well, and then I ate the roll. Why did I put into my system two things that I'm allergic to? Because I'm stupid. Because the waiter might ask me if the roll was not to my liking, and I'd have to tell him that I was allergic to it, and then he and the sushi chef might feel responsible some how, and might try to comp my meal or offer to make me something else, which would make me uncomfortable because it was my fault for not being more thorough in finding out what was in them. And I don't like being fussed over.

And my parents might think I was still hungry and try to get me to order something else, which would inconvenience them, and might once again result in the waiter and/or sushi chef hearing about the situation. I didn't want to make other people uncomfortable. It was bad enough that I'd already remembered to ask about sesame seeds and had them leave that off, and then the sushi chef, rather than the waiter, brought my rolls to me, and presented them while saying "rolls WITHOUT SESAME SEEDS," which made me want to shrink in my chair. I felt like he thought I'd completely dismissed as inedible food that is prevalent in his food culture. I wanted to assure of my unrequited love for sesame, a food that punish me if I ate it, and beg him not to take offense. So I ate the veggie roll. Apparently, I'd rather rush back to my hotel room to take more allergy medicine, and then stay up late to make sure I didn't have a serious reaction while I was all alone. I pictured me in the middle of the night, groggy from allergy medicine, trying to find my epi pen in the pit of despair, a/k/a my purse. I couldn't think of a way that would turn out well, so I had to stay up late enough that I felt nothing worse was coming.

To my credit, I'm not completely stupid, so I didn't eat the whole roll--just enough to make sure the waiter didn't think I hated the food. And then I left a 40% tip just to make sure they didn't hate me there and didn't take my picky eating as a slight.

So, point is, with great power comes the obligation not to find a way to ruin it. That part I'm still working on.